From great showmen to traces of phantasmogoria in modern times, the practice is still alive and well. However, you might be surprised to see where these kind of showy antics appear even today.
Enter Etienne-Gaspard Robert , AKA Etienne Robertson
When looking into the history of the phantasmagoria show, you must mention the most famous pioneers of all , a Belgian inventor and physicist named Etienne-Gaspard Robert, who went by the stage name of Etienne Robertson. In 1797, he decided to transport his show to Paris , taking advantage of the morbid surrounding of the city, which was recovering from a post-revolutionary slump. Robertson created elaborate scenes and the city was thirsty for more.
Situated in an abandoned Capuchin crypt in Paris, he staged hauntings, and with the help of several lanterns, he combined his talents with special sound effects that worked perfectly with the setting of a tomb. To say the very least, those who came to say Robertson were frightened to no end. Robertson’s popularity grew and he soon found himself touring the likes of Russia and Spain. Europe was intrigued with the thought of attending a theatrical ghost show. Soon, the United States wanted a piece of the action.
Phantasmogoria in the Modern Days
There was one American who especially became mesmerized by the early showmen toying with ghostly images. It was none other than Walt Disney himself. If you ever wondered where the inspiration for some of his creations (like the projection effects shown in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and Disney World) or Fantasmic , the closing show of the park that utilizes film clips projected onto water spray and smoke. Mr. Disney is not the only one to use the technique during modern times.
The techniques also inspired a CD-rom video game with a horror theme titled “Phantasmogoria.” The popular of the Windows game soon found a place in the collection of Saga Saturn games during the mid-1990s. When computer games were first dabbling in the practice of using interactive movies as a form of entertainment, Phantasmogoria grew in popularity because, especially when it became one of the first adventure games to use a live actor as an on-screen avatar.
The plot of the video game borrowed a few aspects from “The Shining.” A writer travels to an isolated mansion that was once owned by a famous magician during the late 19th century. After moving into the home with hopes of sparking their creative juices, the couple learns that the magician (named Zoltan) was into black magic. He had called upon an evil demon, which actually possessed him to the point that he killed all of his wives. And so the plot goes on”¦
A handful of modern theatrical troupes located in the United States and the United Kingdom have used phantasmogoria projection shows as part of their entertainment throughout the 21st century. The practice is especially popular during the Halloween season.